Comparison of solar soft X-ray irradiance from broadband photometers to a high spectral resolution rocket observation
The solar soft X-ray (XUV; 1 30 nm) radiation is highly variable on all time scales and strongly affects the ionosphere and upper atmosphere of Earth, Mars, as well as the atmospheres and surfaces of other planets and moons in the solar system; consequently, the solar XUV irradiance is important for atmospheric studies and for space weather applications. While there have been several recent measurements of the solar XUV irradiance, detailed understanding of the solar XUV irradiance, especially its variability during flares, has been hampered by the lack of high spectral resolution measurements in this wavelength range. The conversion of the XUV photometer signal into irradiance requires the use of a solar spectral model, but there has not been direct validation of these spectral models for the XUV range. For example, the irradiance algorithm for the XUV Photometer System (XPS) measurements uses multiple CHIANTI spectral models, but validation has been limited to other solar broadband measurements or with comparisons of the atmospheric response to solar variations. A new rocket observation of the solar XUV irradiance with 0.1 nm resolution above 6 nm was obtained on 14 April 2008, and these new results provide a first direct validation of the spectral models used in the XPS data processing. The rocket observation indicates very large differences for the spectral model for many individual emission features, but the differences are significantly smaller at lower resolution, as expected since the spectral models are scaled to match the broadband measurements. While this rocket measurement can help improve a spectral model for quiet Sun conditions, many additional measurements over a wide range of solar activity are needed to fully address the spectral model variations. Such measurements are planned with a similar instrument included on NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), whose launch is expected in 2009.